Parkland Village Volunteer Manual
To all Parkland Village volunteers:
Parkland Village warmly welcomes you as a volunteer. Volunteers are the very heart of Parkland Village’s mission of helping our older and disabled neighbors to age in place. Most of us long to be able to remain in their homes for as long as possible. We would not be able to function without volunteers like you. The services you will provide as a volunteer are essential not only to our organization, but more importantly to those we serve, and we hope that your service will also enrich your life not only by helping, but by bringing you into contact with neighbors, both those you help and also other volunteers, whom otherwise you might never get to know.
This manual will familiarize you with what you’ll need to know as a Parkland Village volunteer, from how to apply, the background check you’ll need, the pledge you will sign, and the requirements expected of you, to the details of how you’ll be proceeding in providing the array of services open to you based on your background and interests. We could not be more pleased about your decision to volunteer.
The primary goal of Parkland Village is to organize a network of volunteers to assist our older or disabled neighbors who are Parkland Village members in various ways, including:
- Transportation to medical appointments, shopping, church services, and senior activities;
- Light household tasks or yard work that are no longer possible for our neighbors to perform themselves;
- Computer or electronics assistance; and
- Social contact for those who now find themselves alone in their homes.
In doing this, we want to make it possible for our aging neighbors to remain among us as long as safely possible (and, of course, ourselves too, when the time comes).
As an important secondary goal, we hope through our interaction with both recipients of services and other volunteers to get to know each other, establish friendships, and work towards building community in its most basic sense, that of a village, in which we know each other, appreciate each other, and help each other.
Inspired by the national village movement, which consists of well over 200 villages across the U.S. and is supported by the Village to Village Network (www.vtvnetwork.org), Parkland Village (parklandvillageabq.org) was established in 2017 by a number of determined residents in the Parkland Hills neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico. First known as Parkland Hills Village, it has now been expanded to encompass the entire Albuquerque census tract extending from Zuni/Garfield in the north to Gibson in the south, and from San Mateo in the east to Carlisle in the west, and the name has been changed to better reflect this larger area.
As of January, 2019, Parkland Village is a New Mexico nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) status (so donations to the Village are tax deductible). We have a board of directors, several active committees, including a Volunteer Coordination Committee, and an adopted set of bylaws.
Anyone over the age of 18 with a passion for supporting our seniors is welcome to volunteer, and of course there is no upper age limit. Volunteer drivers should be over the age of 25, although the Volunteer Coordination Committee may make exceptions. In addition, teens between the ages of 14 and 18 are welcome to volunteer under the supervision a parent or guardian who is a volunteer.
An application form is included with this manual. Your application will provide the Volunteer Coordination Committee with your contact information and an ability to match you with people who can make use of your interests and skills at the times you are available.
If you intend to provide transportation to Parkland Village members, you will also need to submit a separate driver’s application form. We will not be providing transportation until the pandemic conditions abate sufficiently.
For the safety of those we serve, background checks must be conducted for all prospective volunteers, including a criminal background check. If you will be driving as a part of your volunteer service, a driving background check must first be conducted. Volunteers are expected to pay the cost of background checks, estimated at around $25 annually, unless exempted by the Volunteer Coordination Committee based on inability to pay. All volunteer files will be held in confidence by the Volunteer Coordination Committee.
Volunteer Orientation and Training
All volunteers will be required to attend an orientation and training session before beginning to provide services. Periodic follow-up sessions may be required by Parkland Village. These sessions may be presented online. Any volunteers who have difficulty using a computer for videoconference calls should let us know so that we can help.
The Volunteer Manual
This volunteer manual has been developed for you. We hope to have included all of the information you’ll need to get started and continue to serve as a Parkland Village volunteer. Please familiarize yourself with its contents and refer back to it as you encounter new or unexpected issues. We expect to be updating the manual as we go.
The Volunteer Service Coordinator
The Volunteer Service Coordinator (this position shall rotate) is your primary link to the people you’ll be serving at any given time. For now, we will refer to people receiving services as “service recipients,” “persons,” or “people” (depending on the context), rather than members, because we currently do not have formal memberships. The services we will be providing until pandemic conditions sufficiently abate will be friendly calls, yard work, and food bank deliveries. Prior to launching the full array of services we intend to provide, we will recruit members, establish a dues structure for memberships, and interview prospective members in their homes to assess their needs and the needs of volunteers who will be serving them. At that point, we will revise this volunteer manual.
The on-call Volunteer Service Coordinator (VSC) is responsible for fielding the telephoned or e-mailed requests for service and selecting volunteers to respond to each such request. The selection will be based on volunteers’ expressions of interest and availability. The VSC will contact a selected volunteer to confirm a response and provide contact information for the requesting service recipient. The volunteer will personally contact the service recipient to arrange details, provide the requested service, and report back to the VSC.
If your availability changes after you’ve already arranged a time for the requested service and you’ll be unavailable for only a short time, you can contact the service recipient to reschedule the assignment. Then, call the VSC number to update the VSC of the schedule change. However, if you will be unavailable for an extended period, and the service recipient would like to get the service before you would be available again, call the VSC as soon as you know of your change in availability, so the service recipient’s request can be reassigned promptly.
Newly oriented volunteers will be provided with additional support or mentoring at their request until they feel confident. This process will constitute a learning experience for the Village and volunteers alike. Again, questions can be directed to the VSC, who can be reached at (505) 417-8799.
The Volunteer Identification Badge
Once you have completed your volunteer checklist, you will be issued a Parkland Village ID badge with your name, photo, and the PV logo, held in a plastic sleeve on a lanyard. You will also have a card with resource phone numbers that will fit right behind your ID card. We ask that you wear your ID badge every time you volunteer for Parkland Village unless you’re only making a phone call.
As you’re preparing to go on a volunteer assignment:
Review the volunteer manual particularly before your first couple of assignments. Keep the pdf of the volunteer manual readily accessible on your cellphone so you can refer to it as needed while you are on assignment.
Call the service recipient about 30 minutes before arriving to verify the appointment and to make sure they will be at home when you arrive.
When you are on an assignment:
- Have your cellphone with you (and make sure it’s charged).
- Wear your PV identification badge and resource card.
After an assignment:
Directly after you’ve left the service recipient, call the VSC for your assignment completion call. For the vast majority of your assignments, this will be a short call. This call is always important to complete, even if you have only a minimal amount of information to report. You input regarding the outcome of each of your assignments is vital to help PV as we strive to make our village the best it can be.
We will hold volunteer support meetings at different times during the year to discuss updates in volunteer policies and procedures, and to share what we are all learning as PV volunteers, thereby helping us learn how to be more effective in the services we provide.
- Be dependable. Follow through on assignments or notify the Volunteer Service Coordinator immediately if you cannot complete an assignment.
- Be prompt for all assignments. The service recipient is likely looking forward to your arrival.
- Accept assignments consistent with your interests, abilities, and available time.
- Be nonjudgmental about cultural differences, living conditions, and the lifestyle of people to whom you provide services. Don’t pressure anyone to accept your political, cultural, or religious beliefs. It’s better for the volunteer not even to discuss them.
- Respect the choices service recipients make about their lives, care, and financial matters, even when you believe their choices are not in their best interest. Avoid arguing or debating these issues. If you have concerns about the service recipient’s well-being, contact the Volunteer Service Coordinator.
- Avoid profane or abusive language with service recipients or other volunteers.
- Respect all confidential information regarding health or personal information.
- Avoid removing anything from a service recipient’s home without the written permission of the member. However, if the person asks you to take out certain items and place them in the trash, you may do so without written permission.
- Do not bring your children on a service call without first discussing it with the Service Coordinator. While many people enjoy the presence of children, other people may be overwhelmed by a child’s energy.
- Do not smoke or wear perfume.
- Do not make or accept personal phone calls unless absolutely necessary; these interfere with building a positive relationship.
- Do not give medications or offer medical advice.
- Do not engage in any hands-on or personal care activities.
- Do not accept gifts of significant value.
- Keep your contact and availability information up to date. This will allow us to accurately inform you about assignments you might be interested in taking. You can update your information by simply contacting the Volunteer Service Coordinator.
In addition, volunteer drivers are expected to:
- Make sure the vehicle is clean and free of smoke or offensive odors.
- When appropriate to the needs of the service recipient, exit the vehicle to open and close the vehicle doors.
- Be patient; some people require extra time getting in and out of the car.
- Confirm that all passengers are properly secured in their seat belts.
- Remind service recipients to check the vehicle and retrieve all personal items.
Working with Service Recipients
Build positive relationships.
- Be a good and active listener. Just be present and attentive. Relax; don’t worry about what to say. Ask the service recipient open-ended questions about family, birthplace, hobbies, former occupations, groups they’ve belonged to, music, travel, card games, or books. Learn the interests of the person. Perhaps you share something.
- Maintain interest and enthusiasm. Realize that you have an opportunity to bring something fresh and unique to the service recipient. Discuss current events and things that the person is interested in. Enjoy your conversations.
- Be cheerful and friendly. Remember that friendliness is infectious.
- Don’t show negative reactions to anything unpleasant. There may be odors, poor personal grooming, or poor housekeeping. Bring cheer and not criticism.
- Whenever possible, do things with the person rather than for the person. This helps to avoid the development of a dependent relationship.
- Be dependable. If you agree to do something for the service recipient, follow through.
- Avoid debate. Controversial subjects lead to disagreement and hard feelings.
- Don’t take sides in personal problems. Let the service recipient discuss or vent on personal issues, but while remaining kind and caring, refrain from taking a position.
- Don’t overstay your visit. The service recipient might not have the energy for visits of more than an hour or so. Be sensitive to the time spent.
- Don’t disappoint a member by not showing up. Especially when service recipients are socially isolated, your visit may mean a great deal. If you are unable to make a promised visit, be sure to notify the service recipient and the Volunteer Service Coordinator. Your failure to make an expected visit may give the person the impression that he or she might have done something to offend you.
- Be observant of changes in physical or mental health that may need professional attention. Report these to the Volunteer Service Coordinator.
- Nurture independence where and when it is appropriate. Encourage small steps towards independent completion of a task the service recipient now finds challenging. Celebrate their successes. These successes may increase the person’s motivation to take further steps towards independence in that task.
Maintain boundaries. Guard your own psychological health.
- Avoid thinking that you can solve other people’s problems. Be interested but emotionally neutral if the service recipient discusses physical or social issues.
- Be aware of a growing dependency on you by the service recipient or their family.
- If the service recipient brings up a topic that makes you uncomfortable, such as politics or religion, don’t hesitate to gently deflect the conversation to another topic.
- Perform just the assigned task. Service recipients are to make service requests through the Volunteer Service Coordinator, and not directly with the volunteer. If someone makes a request for an additional or expanded task (such as picking up a prescription on the way home from an appointment), and you are willing to do the additional task, you may do so, but you should later inform the Volunteer Service Coordinator during your assignment-completion call to add it as an approved activity for that member.
- Learn to say no respectfully but firmly.
- Don’t give advice. Don’t permit the service recipient to lean on you as a crutch. Encourage self-help.
- Although you are compassionate, maintain enough distance so you can be objective and realistic about the service recipient situation and thus be more helpful.
Signs that you are exceeding your boundaries include:
- Losing objectivity. For instance, you find yourself becoming resentful toward the service recipient or someone in their family.
- Beginning to feel stressed about volunteering.
- Feeling emotionally on edge with your own family and friends.
- Finding yourself thinking about a service recipient too frequently.
- Feeling as though the service recipient is becoming your personal responsibility.
If you notice any of these signs, be sure to discuss them with the Volunteer Service Coordinator. Remember, you have a responsibility to your own well-being and equilibrium.
Our volunteers are the very heart of Parkland Village. Without you, there would be no way to accomplish our mission of providing the services that will help our neighbors to continue living in their homes for as long as possible. By providing you with this manual, we hope to make your service as a volunteer as easy, effective, enjoyable, and rewarding as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, or encounter any unexpected difficulties, please contact the Volunteer Service Coordinator.
Please contact the Volunteer Service Coordinator at (505) 417-8799 with any questions or concerns you may have.
Volunteer Agreement and Application
As a Parkland Village volunteer, I agree to follow the rules and guidelines described in the Parkland Village Volunteer Manual and related materials to the best of my ability. If my contact information changes, I will notify Parkland Village as soon as possible.
I understand that the Parkland Village Board of Directors, Volunteer Coordinating Committee, and Volunteer Service Coordinator oversee the organizational programs and policies that I participate in and that I will follow their directions. I do understand that from time to time the guidelines may change and that Parkland Village will inform me of those changes and provide them in a timely manner.
Name _______________________________ (please print)
Signature ____________________________ Date __________________
Volunteer Application Form
Telephone (home) ____________________________________________
Telephone (mobile) ___________________________________________
Age 18 or over: Yes _____ No _____
Consent to background check: Yes _____ No _____
If providing transportation:
Driver’s License Number _______________________________________
Services you are interested in providing (please check):
_____ Light chores in the home
_____ Friendly visits/calls
_____ Light yard work
_____ Technical assistance
_____ Other (please describe) ___________________________________________________
Thank you for your application and your interest in volunteering with Parkland Village!
Volunteer Guide to Conversation during Friendly Calls and Visits
Those of our service recipients who find themselves living alone, either by choice or through the loss of a partner, may experience isolation, which can lead to depression or other debilitating or even dangerous circumstances. A part of Parkland Village’s mission is to try to ensure that no service recipient faces social isolation. For that reason, volunteers may be asked to reach out to them through home visits or phone calls.
If, based on your interests, you are assigned to provide a service recipient with a friendly (sometimes referred to as compassionate) visit or call, you might wonder what you will talk about during that call or visit. The short answer is pretty much anything you and the person would like to talk about. Casual conversation is always an option. If the person wants to talk about the weather, a sports event, or an entertaining show they watched on TV, you are free to talk about it. If you find yourself bored or made uncomfortable by the conversation, you can gently try to change the topic until you find a topic you both enjoy talking about. You can also ask the person what they like about whatever they have chosen to talk about, and in that way, you can move the conversation a little deeper.
If, during the conversation, it becomes apparent that the person needs a specific service, whether or not it is one that the Village offers, you can ask them if they would like you to talk to the Volunteer Service Coordinator to find out if the Village or another agency could offer to provide that service. Ideally, The Village could then either schedule the service for that person or refer them to another agency that would be best suited to provide it.
The service recipient may well want to talk about personal experiences that were pleasurable or disturbing. In that case, one of the best tools to use in your conversation is reflective listening (also known as “active listening” – and goes by several other names). Reflective listening is a helpful skill that can be used in many walks of life. Using reflective listening principles during a conversation with a service recipient can help that person feel you clearly understand what they are expressing.
The experience of having another human being fully understand what one is saying can be a powerful one, when used in conversations in which the person expresses mixed feelings and uncertainty about something in their life. Verbalizing their contradictory attitudes and feelings in an emotionally neutral way can stimulate the person to take steps to resolve their ambivalence and move in a positive direction. Or it can just make a person feel more connected to the world and alleviate their loneliness.
Reflective listening can be used in a great variety of situations, but probably is not appropriate in casual conversation. If the speaker begins to talk about something important to them or something that happened to them, try using reflective listening. If the speaker doesn’t respond well, go back to casual conversation.
Guidelines for reflective listening:
- As the listener, if you are visiting a service recipient in person or by videoconference, communicate that you are listening by being attentive and nodding your head in response to what is being said.
- Especially if you are communicating by phone, use sounds to communicate that you are listening. Some sounds are neutral, for example, “uh huh.” As the conversation goes along, the sound should connect to the nature of what’s being described. The sound could express joy, surprise, concern, etc.
- As the speaker tells their story, listen for a time. When the speaker pauses, in your own words, tell them what you heard them say (it can be condensed). Then wait and see how the speaker responds. The speaker may confirm that you got it right. Or they may correct you on some part of it. Briefly, in your own words, state the correction. Then usually you will ask, “What happened then?” inviting them to continue the story. If the story is getting long and complicated, you can stop the speaker and say, “I want to be sure I’m understanding. Let me tell you what I’ve heard so far.” Then state in your own words what they’ve said.
4. As you go along, it may be effective also to note feelings that may underlie what the speaker is saying. You might say, “If that happened to me, I’d be pretty upset” (or sad, happy, angry) - whatever is appropriate to the story. Then see if the speaker confirms that you are right about what they are feeling. Some people will say, “Oh yes, I did,” and then elaborate. Some speakers may not want feelings talked about. If they don’t say anything, stick to reflecting on what happened. Encourage the speaker to go on: “So what happened then?”
- Sometimes it’s good to ask what the speaker thinks about something. For example, “What do you think was going on when that happened?” This encourages the speaker to be more reflective—perhaps less reactive.
- If you’re applying reflective listening principles during a conversation, it’s probably best not to share similar experiences you may have. However, if you do (including if the member asks you to tell them if you’ve had a similar experience), you can do so briefly, but resume reflective listening as soon as possible. Reflective listening is about the speaker, not the listener.
- Watch the time. Say, “We will have to stop in 15 minutes.” Or, “We will have to stop in five minutes, so that the speaker has some time to prepare to end the conversation. Stopping without warning in the middle of being reflectively listened to can be a jarring experience.
To summarize: In reflective listening the listener starts by just repeating in their own words what the speaker has said. As things proceed, the listener begins to put herself/himself in the position of the speaker and to identify with the speaker’s feelings and thoughts. The listener checks in with the speaker from time to time to be sure that he/she has it right: facts, feelings, and thoughts.
Advice is best avoided whether you are in a casual or a reflective listening form of conversation with a service recipient. Assume that the person wants to be “heard” and not “helped.” If a person asks you directly, “What do you think I should do?”, you can respond with a question such as, “I bet you’ve thought a lot about that. What have you considered?” As the person talks further, often the answer becomes clear to them.
If the speaker remains in a quandary or it seems that they may need some kind of outside assistance, discuss this with the Volunteer Service Coordinator. Don’t attempt to fix a problem on your own as part of reflective listening.
Dealing with Emergencies, Health Issues, and Problematic Situations
Parkland Village’s primary goal is to provide support to our neighbors so that they can remain in their homes as long as possible. If you find that a service recipient is experiencing a sudden and unexpected change in status, and they are in a physical health, mental health, or safety crisis, your best resources for assistance are to call 911 for health-related crises, or the New Mexico Crisis & Access line for mental health/coping crises at 1 (855) 662-7474. The trained professionals who answer these phone lines are very knowledgeable. They will help you help the service recipient to get the needed assistance.
You won’t need to memorize any resource phone numbers. You will be given a card with a list of resources and phone numbers. Please keep it right behind your PV identification badge.
Working with the Hearing Impaired
There’s a good chance that as you interact with seniors, you’ll meet someone who has difficulty hearing.
- Speak slowly, clearly, and more loudly than you usually do. If a service recipient doesn’t understand what you’re saying, try expressing the same idea in different words.
- Be sure your face and lips can be seen clearly. Face the person you’re speaking to, and try to stay fairly close.
- If there is background noise, request permission to move to another location, or turn down or off the source of the noise.
- Ask if the member has a hearing aid, and if it’s not in, offer to retrieve it for insertion.
Working with the Visually Impaired
- Make your presence known when encountering the service recipient. Politely inform them when others enter the room.
- Make sure there is adequate lighting in the area.
- Let the person know when you are leaving.
- When walking with the service recipient in an unfamiliar place, you can have them lightly hold or touch your arm as you stay a slight distance ahead.
Working with People Who Use Wheelchairs or Have Difficulty Walking
- Ask the service recipient to tell you what you need to do and how to do it in order to offer the best assistance.
- Make sure that a cane, crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair are within easy reach of the person.
- When escorting a service recipient, ask him/her if he/she would like to take your arm, then stand slightly ahead of the member and proceed at his/her pace.
- Politely offer to carry handbags, coats, or other objects that may complicate the member’s ability to use a walker or cane.
- Make sure to engage a wheelchair’s brakes when having a service recipient transfer to and from the chair.
If a service recipient has an accident:
- Don’t pick up someone who has fallen. If the person can’t get up by him/herself, call 911.
- If the person is unconscious, don’t try to move them (except in a hazardous situation). Call 911.
- Don’t take them to the hospital. Call 911.
If there are signs of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Signs of a heart attack include:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. This may occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to have some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
If there are signs of a stroke, call 911. Signs include:
- FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
If you think a member may be suffering a heart attack or stroke, call 911. Note the time symptoms began, because a clot-busting medication that can resolve symptoms for a specific type of stroke must begin within 3 hours of when symptoms began for the best result.
If a service recipient fails to answer the door
- Check the premises: Look through the windows, ring the doorbell or knock again.
- Call the service recipient’s phone number, and if you get to voice mail, leave a message to contact the VSC to reschedule service.
- If you remain unable to contact the service recipient, call the VSC to report the situation. If the VSC is unavailable, leave a voicemail explaining the situation.
Duty to Report
New Mexico has a “Duty to Report” provision in state law that states: “Any person, or financial institution, having reasonable cause to believe that an incapacitated adult is being abused, neglected or exploited shall immediately report that information to Adult Protective Services.” Adult Protective Services remains on call for emergency reports of adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe
If, while you’re on an assignment, there is something about the situation that is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, first verify that the service recipient is safe, and then let them know that you must leave unexpectedly, despite not having completed your assignment. You have an obligation to your own safety. It’s okay to make up a pretext for leaving early if necessary. Immediately upon leaving, call the VSC and report the situation. We will support you in your decision, and we will contact the service recipient to determine how best to resolve the potential safety issue and complete the assignment.